BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are enjoying a whole rush of feelings the day before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Nerves are not one of them.
“No worries,” goaltender Tuukka Rask said Tuesday. “I don’t think you play this long and battle hard just to come here and start worrying about anything. It’s a game, you go out and execute and hopefully you play your best game and see what happens.”
It’s that calm demeanor that has Rask authoring one of the finest goaltending performances in Stanley Cup playoff history, and his team just one win away from hoisting the Cup. Of course there is another team standing in Boston’s way, and that would be the St. Louis Blues, whom they’ve battled for six games with nothing being decided. Now it all comes down to the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 to ever be played in Boston.
“We’re not going to focus on anything we can’t control,” forward Brad Marchand said Tuesday. “We’re not going to worry about worries and the way things could play out. We’re going to put our focus on the process and what we can control in this room.”
Patrice Bergeron inspired Boston’s troops with a rousing pre-game speech ahead of Sunday night’s Game 6 victory in St. Louis. The Bruins roster is littered with veterans who have loads of Game 7 experience, but no talk will be required ahead of the puck dropping on Wednesday night.
“It’s winner takes all, so not much needs to be said,” added center Charlie Coyle. “It’s not hard to get up for these games. It’s the biggest game of the year, obviously. We’re just going to be ready to go.”
“Leave it all out there. There’s nothing more to play for,” said fourth-line winger Noel Acciarri. “It’s the biggest stage in hockey, and you don’t want to leave anything out.”
Many of the emotions running through the Boston locker room Tuesday were those of reminiscing. Years ago, most players were imagining their younger selves taking the ice for in a Game 7 and having their numbers called with the game on the line. Now, they’re hoping to turn those dreams into a reality.
“Mostly right in front of house, by myself, going through scenarios. You love thinking back to those moments,” said Coyle. “Being here, you want to make sure you make the most of it and have some fun along the way.”
“I think every hockey player can say that at some point in their life, they’ve dreamed to be in a position like this,” said Marchand. “It’s much different when you’re going through it and realizing how exciting and hard it is. You have so much more appreciation for what we’ve been through and the road we’ve taken to get here. It’s a very special opportunity, regardless of how it plays out tomorrow. It’s been a special adventure with this group and hopefully it ends on a good note.”
Marchand has been on both sides of the Stanley Cup, feeling the thrill of victory with an incredible Game 7 win in Vancouver in 2011, and the agony of defeat in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Dealing with both ends of the spectrum gives the veteran a great perspective on everything that has led up to this point.
“You realize when you get to this point, how hard it actually is. Especially the longer you’ve been around the league, you look at some guys who have been around a long time and how few opportunities you get. It’s extremely difficult to get to this point,” he said. “You need everything to go your way; you need the calls, you need the bounces, you needs guys to be healthy and guys to step up at the right time throughout the year. It’s extremely tough just to get to this point here, and to win is even harder than that.
“When you lose, you realize how close it is. You get a taste but you don’t get that victory, the feel of winning, and that’s extremely difficult,” he said. “It’s the best thing in the world for the team that wins and it sucks for the team that loses. Being on both sides of it, you realize how hard it is and how [crappy] it is to lose. Winning and losing, that sticks with you forever. There is going to be both sides of that tomorrow, and we’ll see how that plays out.”